Senate leaders say victim targeting bill dead this session

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says a bill to provide enhanced penalties for crimes that target people because of their sexual orientation or personal characteristics is dead for the 2018 session.

“It just doesn’t have enough support,” said Niederhauser when asked why SB86 has been sitting in the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee since the opening day of the 2018 session.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, says his bill allows for enhancement of a criminal penalty for those already convicted of a crime if it can be proven that the perpetrator targeted the victim because of a laundry list of factors, including gender, ethnicity, disability, the victim’s ancestry or sexual orientation.

The bill was a long shot coming into the 2018 session. Thatcher pushed the same bill last year with no success as he was unable to get it out of the Senate Rules Committee. This year it went one step further, being assigned to a standing committee. However, is told that the bill will not be put on an agenda for a hearing this year, meaning it’s as good as dead.

Thatcher was able to rally support for the bill from many cities and counties who expressed support for his legislation. Additionally, nearly every faith-based community in Utah signed on to back the bill, except for the LDS Church.

Thatcher acknowledges the prognosis for his bill is bleak, but he says he’ll keep pushing.

“It’s one thing to have your colleagues tell you they would give you their vote. It’s another to actually get the 16 votes you need to pass it out of the Senate,” he said. “I’ll keep pushing to get those votes. It’s a longshot, but we still have about a month left in the session.”